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Courtesy the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.


A crystal of snow. Snowflakes may take many different shapes of great beauty. Large snowflakes are formed by the combination of smaller flakes, usually at temperatures at or near freezing. Snowflakes are usually six sided because of the arrangement of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the crystal. Small flakes form at colder temperatures. On the ground, snowflakes lose their structure and become grainy.